US Woman Being Held in Peru on Possible Charges of Treason

Reuters -- December 1995

Lori Berenson, a 26-year-old woman from New York, may be charged with treason and tried by a tribunal of three hooded judges in Lima, Peru. She has been held and interrogated for over two weeks at anti-terrorist headquarters, DINCOTE, without being charged. She may face a military trial by a system that has been denounced by human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. People are being encouraged to contact their representatives, the State Department, and the Peruvian Embassy to demand that she is released.

Grimaldo Achahui was chosen as Peruvian lawyer after her request for a US lawyer was denied. He says his client is in good condition. "She is serene, calm, she trusts in justice." On December 12 some of Achahui's comments were misinterpreted as an admission on Berenson's part to collaboration with the MRTA. A number of US lawyers, including former Attorney General Ramsey Clarke, have been helping to prepare the defense and advise her parents and friends. Clarke's office said: "We categorically deny that Lori admitted to collaboration or that she is guilty of anything. We maintain that Lori is innocent and her only crime is her commitment to human rights, peace, and social justice."

Berenson's parents and friends are very concerned about her treatment and release. She has spent several years teaching English and doing translation and secretarial work for human rights organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Most recently she has been working as a freelance journalist while traveling in Peru.